A RETRIAL has been ordered against a police sergeant who was sentenced to two years hard labour after he was found guilty in 2012 by a Princes Town magistrate on two charges of indecently assaulting a female colleague.
The Court of Appeal yesterday upheld several grounds of appeal which were filed by attorneys representing Sgt Curtis Julien, stating Senior Magistrate Indrani Cedeno erred in law during the course of the trial resulting in her arriving at the guilty verdicts.
Appeal Court judges Justices Alice Yorke-Soo Hon and Mark Mohammed handed down the judgment at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain yesterday, ordering the matter be retried before another magistrate.
Senior Counsel Gilbert Peterson, who represented Julien had put forward arguments that Cedeno erroneously used pieces of evidence as corroboration when in fact those pieces of evidence were not supporting material and that she elevated an apology from Curtis to the female officer to that of a confession of guilt.
The Court upheld four of the five arguments put forward by the defence team.
According to the facts in the matter, around 2 a.m. on December 4, 2009, at the Princes Town Police Station, the officer was asleep in the female dormitory when she was awakened by Julien who placed his mouth on her back and passed his hands between her legs.
The woman had agreed to not take action against Julien if he were to offer a sincere apology, but being unsatisfied with the apology, Julien was arrested and charged, the court said.
Throughout the trial at the Princes Town Court, Julien denied the allegations brought against him.
He testified saying he arrived at the station ten minutes after the time of the alleged incident, adding that he never went into the dormitory and the only interaction he had with the woman was a conversation which was interrupted by a phone call.
Julien was later found guilty and was sentenced to two years hard labour on each charge to run concurrently.
He later obtained bail in the sum of $175,000 after his attorneys filed the appeal.
During yesterday’s hearing Yorke-Soo Hon pointed out that Cedeno’s ruling against Julien contained 82 pages.
She said the court was not impressed with quantity, but instead the quality and simplicity of rulings. Yorke-Soo Hon said lengthy reasons for arriving at a particular ruling “provide a haven for shifting of the law.”
The judge added that lengthy pieces of law need not be quoted in rulings as a magistrate should only consider and outline the necessary pieces of evidence relevant to the case. She added that lengthy reasons also left room for error, saying that what in fact was needed is “brevity, clarity and simplicity.” —Rickie Ramdass